What businesses are eligible to apply?

To be eligible, companies will need to:

  • be a legally structured business registered in Victoria with an Australian Business Number (ABN), with a minimum three years trading history;
  • be currently engaged in manufacturing or the manufacturing supply chain or demonstrate a genuine commercial connection to the manufacturing supply chain;
  • have an operating presence in Victoria; and
  • employ at least 20 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff or have an annual turnover of greater than $1.5 million (preference will be given to applicants that employ less than 200 people).

Companies with fewer than 20 FTE staff may be considered but will need to provide a compelling argument demonstrating why their project should be funded and how it will stimulate job creation.

Companies with an annual turnover of more than $100 million will need to provide a compelling argument demonstrating why government support is needed.

An Incorporated Trustee can apply on behalf of a Trust provided that the Trustee:

  • will remain sufficiently liable for the performance of any agreement it signs; and
  • can meet the above eligibility criteria.

Individual Partners may apply on behalf of a Partnership provided that the Partners:

  • will remain jointly and severally liable for the performance of any agreement they sign; and
  • can meet the above eligibility criteria.

What businesses are not eligible to apply?

The following entities are not eligible to apply:

  • individuals
  • Commonwealth, State and Local Government agencies or bodies
  • publicly funded research institutions
  • not-for-profit organisations
  • community-based organisations.

Are joint applications acceptable?

Yes, provided they have a lead applicant who is both the primary project proponent and an eligible applicant. The lead applicant will be subject to a financial risk assessment and all participating businesses will be subject to probity checks.

Both applicants may contribute to project expenditure to meet any co-contribution requirements.

Can I lodge an application under one entity and create the new jobs under a related entity?

No. If an application is successful, the applicant entity will be required to enter into a grant agreement with the Government that links payments to investment and job creation targets.

The applicant entity must undertake the investment and also employ the proposed new full-time equivalent positions resulting from the investment.

What are the key dates for the program?

The first round of the Business Competitiveness Program is open for applications until 4 July 2021.

Information about a second round will be available in due course

Applications will only be accepted when a funding round is open.

How do I apply?

Applications should be lodged online via the Business Victoria webpage.

All sections of the application form must be completed in full and all requested attachments provided. (Completing the application process in a Google Chrome web browser is recommended.)

For further information please call Business Victoria on 13 22 15.

Can I submit a late application?

No, late applications will not be accepted. Applications can only be submitted during a funding round.

If a business misses the deadline for submitting an application to a funding round, they can apply as soon as the next funding round opens.

How much funding is available?

The program provides grants of up to 33 per cent of eligible project expenditure. The minimum grant amount is $50,000 and the maximum grant amount is $500,000.

Projects with total eligible expenditure of less than $150,000 will not be considered.

Funding for this program will be awarded on a competitive basis.

What sort of financial commitment is required from companies?

Companies will need to meet the minimum cash co-contribution requirement of at least $2 for every $1 granted (67 per cent of total eligible project expenditure).

In-kind contributions (i.e. non-monetary resources) are excluded. Funds from other Victorian or Commonwealth Government programs cannot form part of the co-contribution.

Full project expenditure, including grant funding and co-contribution funding, must be spent on eligible project activities as detailed below.

How do I demonstrate evidence of my cash co-contribution?

Required evidence of cash co-contribution includes:

  • evidence, in writing, of support from the Board (or business owner or CEO) that the business can undertake the project and meet its co-contribution costs; and
  • an approved loan facility (loan agreement); or
  • cash at bank (current bank statement); or
  • management accounts demonstrating satisfactory cashflow or liquid assets.

Is in-kind allowable as co-contribution?

No. In-kind contributions (i.e. non-monetary resources) are excluded from being counted towards the required 2:1 cash co-contribution.

What can the grant be used for?

Grants can be used to purchase and commission capital equipment (recorded as fixed assets in the applicant’s accounts) and associated project expenditure related to manufacturing product and process improvements, prototyping, evaluation and testing of new products and processes, and supply chain capability development.

Any other activities will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Eligible project expenditure includes the following activities relating to the proposed project:

  • capital expenditure (e.g. manufacturing machinery, equipment and technology)
  • other project-related non-capitalised expenditure (e.g. related to product and process improvements, prototyping, evaluation and testing of
  • new products and processes, and supply chain capability development)
  • minor building alterations and fit-out costs
  • training specific to the technology (external costs only)
  • labour and contractors (but does not include internal salaries).

Eligible project expenditure must be:

  • incurred by the grant recipient within 18 months of execution of the grant agreement;
  • a direct cost of the project; and
  • exclusive of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

What activity is not eligible for funding?

The Business Competitiveness Program is not intended to support projects which involve:

  • routine replacement or minor upgrades of plant and equipment
  • purchase of vehicles
  • routine operational expenses, including communications, accommodation, office computing facilities, printing and stationery, postage, legal and accounting fees and bank charges
  • costs related to preparing the grant application, preparing any project reports and preparing any project variation requests
  • projects where the primary purpose relates to offshore manufacturing
  • building websites, marketing, sales and promotional activities, or
  • early-stage Research and Development (R&D) activities.

What documentation do I need to submit with my application?

All applications must be accompanied by a project plan (including quotations from supplier/s to support estimated costs). A project plan template providing guidance about information the project plan should include is available.

Applicants will be required to provide the following additional supporting documentation:

  • audited financial reports for the past three years (including profit & loss, balance sheet and notes to the accounts)
  • management or interim accounts for the current year, if the most recent financial report is more than 6 months old
    financial projections (profit & loss and cash flow)*
  • evidence of cash co-contribution (outlined below).

*Cash flow projections should include project expenditure and project funding as separate items in cash outflow and inflow. The financial projections should cover the life of the project and should reflect the financial benefits expected to be generated from the project. A template providing guidance on the profit and loss and cash flow projections is available.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure all requested documentation is supplied to the Department within the required timeframes. Failure to do so may result in the application being deemed ineligible.

What is the assessment process?

All applications will be assessed against the eligibility and assessment criteria and their ability to meet the objectives of the program.

Applicants will be advised of the outcome by email and successful applicants will receive a letter of offer.  

Applicants may be contacted to provide additional supporting documentation and confirm the performance targets and milestones.

There is no guarantee that an application will be supported for funding, or that the amount of funding requested will be offered.

What criteria will my application be assessed against?

For the full assessment criteria, please refer to the program guidelines.

How quickly will I find out the outcome of my application?

Businesses should expect to learn the outcome of their application within approximately sixteen (16) weeks of submission.

Do companies have a right of appeal?

There is no right of appeal and feedback will be provided to unsuccessful applicants by the Department.

Will I have to sign a contract to receive the grant funding?

Yes. Successful applicants will be sent a letter of offer inviting them to enter into a legally binding grant agreement with the Department. The grant agreement details all funding obligations and conditions.

Applicants will have 30 calendar days from the date of the letter of offer to accept the offer in writing and 60 calendar days from the date of acceptance to execute the grant agreement with the Department. The offer may be withdrawn if the grant agreement is not executed within the 60-day timeframe.

A sample grant agreement is available on the program page.

How quickly will I have to start the project?

Successful applicants will need to commence projects within 90 days of execution of the grant agreement.  

Successful applicants will also be required to provide evidence that the applicant has committed a minimum of 10 per cent of eligible project expenditure by this date, in the form of a purchase order and/or invoice from the supplier/s.

When will my project need to be completed by?

Successful applicants will need to complete the project activities within eighteen (18) months of the date of the grant agreement. Completion of the project within this timeframe will be a legally binding commitment in the grant agreement.

Project completion must not extend beyond June 2023.

Will I be required to report on the progress of my project?

Yes. All recipients of grant funds must agree under the grant agreement to:

  • report on the outcomes of the project (six-monthly written milestone reports including progress towards job creation are required). Depending on the size of the grant there may be a requirement for audited reports;
  • complete a project completion evaluation report (before the final milestone payment is paid);
  • face-to-face meetings (as requested); and
  • participate in a formal evaluation of the program by the Department or its agents (as requested).

Does my project need to be located in Victoria?

Yes, funding is only available to Victorian-based manufacturers and applicants will need to testify in their application that they agree to conduct the majority of proposed activities in Victoria.

Can I start my project before I have signed a grant agreement?

No. Funding will not be provided for retrospective activities, i.e. where project expenditure is incurred prior to receipt and acceptance of a letter of offer.

Applicants that commence their projects prior to execution of a grant agreement do so at their own risk, and the offer of the grant may be withdrawn.

Will I be obligated to create the number of jobs estimated in my application?

Yes, the number of new sustainable FTE jobs expected to be created in applications will be a legally binding commitment in the grant agreement.

Will the information I provide at application be kept confidential?

Information provided by applicants for the purpose of submitting an application will be used by the Department for the purposes of assessment of applications, program administration and program review.

In making an application, the applicant consents to the provision of their information to State and Commonwealth Government departments and agencies for the purpose of assessing applications. If there is an intention to include personal information about third parties in the application, please ensure they are aware of and consent to the contents of this privacy statement.

Any personal information about the applicant or a third party will be collected, held, managed, used, disclosed or transferred in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and other applicable laws.

The Department is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information. The Department’s Privacy Policy can be found online at https://djpr.vic.gov.au. Enquiries about access to information should be directed to the Department’s Privacy Unit by emailing privacy@ecodev.vic.gov.au.

If successful, will my project details be made public?

Possibly. Grant recipients must agree to cooperate with the Department in the preparation of materials used to promote the benefits of the program to industry, such as a media release or case study on the project and consult with the Department prior to the publication of any project promotion materials.

Successful projects may be announced by the Minister for Industry Recovery and Support in a media release and may also be listed on the Business Victoria website.

Where can I find more information?

The Business Competitiveness Program guidelines can be accessed on the program webpage.

Call the Business Victoria Help Line on 13 22 15.

Email the program team at midf@djpr.vic.gov.au.